Box of Allowable Activism

The Legal System Protects Corporate Rights and Limits Community Rights

Our rights to make decisions about what happens in the places we live has slowly been eroded over the last 200 years. Now Corporations have more Rights than People do. There are four tenets of our current legal system that prevent communities from having much impact on the activities of big corporations – especially when it comes to environmental degradation and injustice.

  1. State Preemption: The laws made by the State legislation overrule any made by City or County governments. 

  2. Nature as Property: You can own pieces of “nature”. If you own it you can destroy it.

  3. Corporate Privilege: Corporations are afforded the same Rights as individuals including for example the Right to Free Speech

  4. Regulatory Fallacy: The regulatory laws are designed to limit the amount of harm done to the natural world, not to stop harm being done. That harm will be done is an assumption.

Laws are written by humans! They can be changed. 

The Community Rights movement, lead by the Community Environmental Defense Fund ( is working to change these laws to bring decision making power back to local communities.  It is local communities who are most negatively impacted by the activities of big corporations such as pipelines construction; local communities should have the power to make decisions about what happens there.